What Are Dental Sealants? And Other FAQs

Dental sealants are made of a durable plastic material that coats the chewing surfaces of one or more teeth. As a cavity prevention tool, sealants block bacteria and tooth decay from affecting the sealed-off tooth. The sealant will smooth over crevices and hiding places for food particles so that your child’s teeth are better protected against cavities and acid erosion. As an investment for their oral health, dental sealants are highly-effective at protecting vulnerable teeth from cavities for up to five or ten years.

Who is a candidate for dental sealants?

Sealants are a great option for children who are in the developmental stages of independent oral hygiene. Since they are just learning how to brush their own teeth, cleaning in hard-to-reach places may be more difficult and increase their risk of tooth decay. Sealants are not only for children, however. Dental sealants can also help adults and teens prevent cavities when physical disabilities limit them from practicing complete oral hygiene. One danger for dental sealants, however, is existing tooth decay. A sealant cannot be placed on a tooth with any cavities present or signs of previous tooth decay. Otherwise, the sealant could unintentionally lock bacteria in instead of keeping them out.

How are dental sealants placed?

At a dental cleaning, your child’s dentist will check for signs of tooth decay to determine if your child is a candidate for sealants. This may include a dental X-ray to see cavities hidden to the naked eye. If sealants are a good choice, then the procedure will only take a few minutes. First, the dentist will completely dry the tooth for optimal attachment. Then, the dentist will simply paint the plastic coating onto the tooth or teeth’s chewing surfaces and harden the material using a special light.

filed under: Children's Dental Services, Preventive Treatments